The football revolution…
Anyone under 30 may find it hard to believe that football used to be a sport exclusively for the scum of the earth. It was more sociably acceptable to introduce yourself as Donald Trump than as a Newcastle fan.
A few weeks back there was a programme on ITV 4, entitled ‘When football changed forever’. It recalled the events of the 1991-92 season, the last season before Sky.
I found it to be a superb watch, if only for looking at the stadiums pre the Taylor report. Memories of times on the various terraces came flooding back.
The programme also gave an honourable mention to the first football phone-in to be aired, which was 6-0-6 with Danny Baker.
Granted, Mr Baker may have been a loud mouthed opinionated cockney, but Danny clearly loved his football. He talked knowledgeably about it and was genuinely interested in the thoughts of the fans that rang his show, 6-0-6 in 1992 summed up everything that was good about the new interest in the sport.
But what happened to Baker and his show was to be an ominous peak at what was to happen to the game itself. Within a few years Baker was gone and had been replaced by David Mellor.
David bloody Mellor.
In its wisdom, the BBC believed that the voice of the fans should now be a disgraced Tory MP, who had visited Stamford Bridge on the odd occasion just to buy his ropy looking mistress a Chelsea top. Not surprisingly, 6-0-6 ceased to be unmissable radio from that moment on.
Football in 2016 is quite literally a different world to that which existed when the Premier league was born and yet for all the improvements in the ‘customer experience’, is it better? I’m not sure it is.
Granted, my opinion may be slightly swayed by the last ten years, in which my team has been on the whole, utterly crap. I might think differently if we had done a Leicester in that time .
Unfortunately, we haven’t.
The politically correct brigade would say I am vertically challenged, while those in the club refer to me as a short-arsed little git.
Either way, I spent the majority of my youth trying to watch the match standing on my toes, peeking past scary lads dressed in white butcher’s coats and donkey jackets. I would look at the new east stand and dream of a day when I could watch Supermac score, without it resulting in me ending up on my backside, 20 feet away from where I had been standing seconds before.
In those days, seats were for the very well off. These days we all have to be well off…
But why is it ok for 50 thousand to watch a concert standing up, or hurtle back at 90mph to Durham on an obscenely packed train standing up, but not to watch football?
The problem was fencing and the return of some controlled terraces might just allow people to attend a match at a reasonable price.
When so much money is pouring into the game, high ticket prices are totally unnecessary. We are getting very close to a tipping point when young people just can’t afford to shell out any more . Will we see serious change in the coming seasons? I really hope so, because this obviously has a direct impact on the atmosphere. When the odd thrilling game comes around there is still nothing like it, but I fully believe that a lack of young people has a huge effect on the atmosphere at all grounds, not just our own.
However, there is one area where things have got better and that’s the food. It’s ridiculously overpriced of course, but it is better. The truth is, it would be impossible to provide worse food than what was on offer before the premiership. However, I sort of miss going to the back of the Milburn / Leazes corner to get a hot dog and a Bovril from that old fella whose nose seemed to constantly dribble down his face for the whole of the 1980s.
“Do you want anything with your hot dog son?”
“No thank you, can I have it without a covering of mucus please.”
It’s a good job the people of the North East are a hardy bunch because God knows how we all survived being fed salmonella in a bun on a fortnightly basis.
Twenty five years after the football revolution we are still here.
Still awaiting that trophy which in those 25 years has come to Blackburn, Leicester, Portsmouth, Wigan and Swansea, but surely our time will come.